Why Ships Sink: Herald of Free Enterprise

Documentary1 x 60' for Channel 5

The sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise was the worst peacetime shipping disaster since the Titanic.

On the 6th of May 1987, the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry set sail from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge with 459 passengers and crew on board. Twenty minutes into her journey she started to list uncontrollably. 90 seconds later she had capsized, and half the ship was filled with icy water.

The coastguard and local ships mounted a desperate rescue mission, but despite their efforts 193 people lost their lives. It was the worst peacetime shipping disaster since the Titanic.

Why did the ship sink so quickly? What could have been done to prevent the accident? And what lessons can we learn from the disaster today?

Now, minute by minute we reveal the series of catastrophic errors that led to the disaster.  Survivors tell the story of what it was like on board in gripping detail. And the coroner who investigated the tragedy speaks publicly for the first time since the accident. 

Filmed, produced and directed by Dave Young
Executive Producers David Dugan , Tom Cook
Assistant Producer Annie Gunyon
Production Coordinators Kubra Cengiz , Harley Gower
Production Manager Hunter Phillipps
Production Executive Alex Barraki